Ropley Horticultural Society


November 2021

Our Christmas meeting is on Monday 29th November at 7.45pm in the Sports Pavilion when we are looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible to hear all about ‘Death in the Garden’ and share mulled wine (of the non-alcoholic variety!) with mince pies. There will be a raffle as usual and Flower of the Month. We will space the chairs out and have windows slightly open to ensure a flow of air so please come warmly dressed. Sanitiser will also be available and please wear a mask if you wish.

You may remember me mentioning at a previous meeting a visit to the gardens at Lovington House, Ovington to include a cream tea, which the Friends of St. Peters were arranging for next year in aid of the rebuilding of the Church. Details are as shown and tickets can be booked now. The Friends of St. Peters have kindly given us this early opportunity to book tickets so if you would like to go, please make your booking. A Refund Protection payment is also offered.

Our first meeting of the New Year will be our AGM on the 31st January and we have decided to hold it by Zoom which will save you having to venture out on what will probably be a cold Winter night. Our speaker will be Geoff Hodge and his subject ‘Scented Plants and the Scented Garden’. All the papers will be sent to you by email together with details of how the subscription may be paid and your Members Handbook obtained.

If you are not able to come on Monday the Committee joins me in sending you our very best wishes for Christmas and a Happy New Year enjoying our gardens!

August 2021

Our July Gardeners’ Question Time meeting with Ray Broughton on Monday 26th July was a great success with members bringing many examples of sick plants for him to identify. Ray is always an entertaining and knowledgeable speaker and everyone very much enjoyed the evening. We also had our annual Sweet Pea Competition which was won by Imelda Simons. It was lovely to see members together again.

During his talk Ray mentioned a fungal treatment called Invigorator which can be bought on the web or Garthowen Nursery have said they will stock it if sufficient people want it, so do visit Garthowen and ask!! His other recommendation was for a plant fertiliser called Vitax Q4 which Garthowen and most other garden centres do stock.

The Summer Show is on Saturday 21st August and we hope lots of you will enter the classes and, of course, come to the Show!! We hope lots of villagers will support this our first Show for 2 years. We are particularly anxious to encourage lots more children’s entries so please ask your grandchildren and friends’ children and grandchildren to become involved. There is a wide range of things to enter with age grouped classes for Flower Arranging, Photography, Design & Create and Cookery. All children under 16 enjoy FREE entry! Full details are in your Members Handbook including entry forms. Additional entry forms can be downloaded here and entry forms are also available from The Courtyard Shop.

As usual there will also be a raffle so if you have any unwanted gifts or items which would be suitable for raffle prizes we would be very pleased to receive them. These can either be handed to a Committee member or brought to the hall on the morning of the Show. The raffle helps to offset the cost of hiring the hall and the other expenses of putting on the Show so it is a very important part of the afternoon.

Our visit to Houghton Lodge Gardens on Tuesday 14th September has proved difficult to arrange because of the high cost. We now propose going on the 14th September as advertised but paying as individual visitors which will cost £9 per person and to buy refreshments there if required. We can meet at 1.30pm as originally planned and walkaround the garden at our leisure. There is plenty of parking on site. It is a lovely garden which includes a walled kitchen garden with heritage fruit trees, several different borders outside the walls, a pond, grotto, fields with alpacas and sheep, parkland and water meadows and a riverside walk along the River Test. There is an option to pre-book but this isn’t necessary and it carries an extra charge of £1.30.

We hope you will agree this is a realistic compromise. You can see what beautiful gardens these are by taking a look at the details on the web Their address is Houghton Lodge Gardens, Stockbridge, Hampshire, SO20 6LQ. We hope to see as many of you as possible on the 14th September and look forward to visiting these lovely gardens together. If you need a lift please can you contact Imelda on 01962 773487.

We have entered the Hampshire Federation of Horticultural Societies Quiz again this year and our team, Dilys Warwick, Imelda Simons, Jeremy Carruthers and Rodney Skinner will take part in the first round at Otterbourne on Sunday 26th September. We wish them every success!

Our next Members’ meeting will be held on Monday 27th September at 7.45pm in the Sports Pavilion when our speaker, Susanna Jarrett, will talk about “Dressing your House for Christmas”. This will ensure we are fully prepared to make our homes look beautiful for the festive season and give us all some inspiration!

Please look through the Show Schedule to see which classes you can enter and flower arrangers – please support this section as sadly since our last show we have lost two members who always entered arrangements. It is a part of the show which visitors particularly enjoy and we must continue to provide the impact which the class provides.

July 2021

It looks as if we may be able to have a REAL face to face Members’ Meeting this month! However I realise that some of you may still wish to be cautious and we are hoping to be able to record the meeting and put it on our website so you can enjoy it later, but this will have to be confirmed with the agreement of our speaker, Ray Broughton, who is coming to give us a ‘Gardeners Question Time’ at 7.45pm on Monday 26th July in the Sports Pavilion. The wearing of masks will be optional but I think most people will want to continue to be protected with one. It would help us if you could please let us know if you will be coming to the meeting by emailing so we can get an idea of how many people to prepare for as this will be our first face to face speaker meeting for so long.

This meeting will also include our Sweet Pea Competition. To enter just bring three stems of annual Sweet Peas, which you have grown yourself, in your own container with you to the meeting. The winner will be announced on the night and the cup will be awarded at the Summer Show.

The Sweet Pea Competition will be in addition to our usual Flower of the Month Competition which we will start again on the 26th. For new members who have not been able to come to a ’live’ meeting before, we bring in a flower of our choice, which we have grown in our garden, in a vase, to the Competition Table. Entries are judged on the evening and points accumulated at all meetings through the year up to December. The Winner receives the Bert Clanfield trophy at our AGM in January.

Our Garden Party at Kitwood Cottage was great fun and it was lovely to see members and be able to sit and chat once more. The weather was reasonable, and we all enjoyed the tea and cake provided by the Committee.

We are now preparing for our first Show in two years! The Summer Show will be at the Parish Hall on Saturday 21st August at 2.30pm when you will be able to enjoy and hopefully enter, the VEGETABLES & FRUIT, FLOWERS, FLORAL ART, EGGS, COOKERY, DESIGN & CREATE and PHOTOGRAPHY and a much-enlarged CHILDREN’S section with classes for FLOWER ARRANGING, PHOTOGRAPHY, DESIGN & CREATE and COOKERY. Please do encourage the young and very young people in your families to enter, with all children under 16 enjoying FREE entry! We are hoping for a large entry which we can all enjoy. Full details are in your Members Handbook including entry forms. Additional entry forms can be downloaded here and entry forms will also be available from The Courtyard Shop from Monday 26th July 2021. See attached advertisement which will soon appear around the village. Please spread the word!

We hope you will all find a class which you can enter in the Show! There is a huge range which we know will appeal to all interests quite apart from the horticultural ones! There is a very helpful section in the Members’ Handbook which explains how the Show is run and if you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact either a committee member or a long standing member who, no doubt, has entered classes many times before! The more people who enter will provide more interest on the day and give a huge buzz to those who take part!

On Tuesday 14th September we are planning a visit to Houghton Lodge Gardens at Stockbridge with a guided tour followed by tea/coffee and cake and some free time to explore on your own. We will be travelling by our own cars arriving at 1.15pm so the tour can begin at 1.30pm. There is plenty of parking on site. It is a lovely garden which includes a walled kitchen garden with heritage fruit trees, several different borders outside the walls, a pond, grotto, fields with alpacas and sheep, parkland and water meadows and a riverside walk along the River Test. We are hopeful that it will be a wonderful day out which will make up for the cancelled events. As soon as we know definitely that this visit can take place we will let you know.

I do hope that we will soon be able to get ‘back to normal’ so that we can enjoy all our events to the full. I will look forward to seeing you all again on a more regular basis!

In the meantime, enjoy your gardens!

January 2021

We are looking forward to rolling out our Programme for 2021 starting with our Zoom Members’ meeting on Thursday 25th February at 7.45pm when Adam Pasco will give a talk entitled “Spring into Action & Get Ready for Summer”. Very appropriate! Please do note the date THURSDAY 25TH FEBRUARY as this is not our normal meeting day but the closest to it the speaker was available.

For those of you who have not used Zoom before, please don’t worry. All you need do is to load the Zoom programme onto your computer which you can do without any cost. A meeting invitation will be sent to you nearer the time with full explanation of how to join the meeting. We are sure you will very soon become Zoom experts!

On Monday 29th March at 7.45pm Nancy Stevens will give another Zoom talk entitled “Elizabeth Blackwell: Herbalist, Botanical Artist & Love Story”. Full details of both talks are listed in the Programme. Please put both these dates into your diary!

Our Members’ Handbook and Show Schedules will shortly be delivered to Members' doors by the Committee. Members will know that this year the subscription you paid in 2020 will be carried over into 2021. If you or anybody you know of anyone who would like to join the Society please download the Membership Form complete it and send to Imelda Simons, Ropley Manor Cottage, Petersfield Road, Ropley, SO24 0DX.

Some of you who collected plants from Bloomers Polytunnel at our Plant Sale last May will remember the beautiful baskets which were hanging inside. Several people asked if they were available to buy but they were all pre-ordered. Carolyn North of Bloomers has asked me to let you know that she is currently taking orders for basket and container refills which will be available later in May. If you would like her to prepare one for you all you have to do is contact her and arrange for her to have your empty basket or container which she will fill. Carolyn can be contacted either by Mobile: 07799 187872 or Email: We will be having our Plant Sale at Bloomers on Saturday 22nd May 2021.

I look forward to joining with you for our first Zoom Members’ meeting on Thursday 25th February.

December 2020

The Committee and I have been planning for next year and I would like to update you. Our Programme is almost complete but, of course, is ‘Subject to change’!

We have decided to send the paperwork for the AGM to you all by email and ask that any questions relating to the Reports be sent to us by email. If you have any nominations for Officers, please let us have them as soon as possible.

We have arranged for our February and March Members’ meetings to be Zoom meetings. The two speakers we have booked are both experienced with Zoom and we will give you full instructions on how to join these meetings. For those of you who haven’t used Zoom before, please don’t be alarmed! It’s an amazing tool and not difficult to use. It also saves you from leaving your warm house on a cold, dark night!

The February meeting will be on THURSDAY 25TH February. I know this is not our normal meeting day, but this was the closest date to it that we could arrange for our speaker, Adam Pascoe, to give the talk. Then on Monday 29th March Nancy Stevens will give another Zoom talk. Full details of both talks will be listed in the Programme which will be available here in January. Please put both these dates in your diary! As you know, this year the subscriptions you paid in 2020 are carried over into 2021 and as there won’t be a physical AGM the Committee will deliver your 2021 Programme and Show Schedules to your door. If you know of anyone who would like to join the Society, please ask them to contact me and I will put them in touch with our Membership Secretary.

You will see the Show Schedules have been completely changed this year! Lots of different classes have been created and the Children’s Sections have been expanded. We hope you will enjoy the new format and start preparing your entries! Obviously, we don’t yet know whether we will be able to have our Spring Show on Saturday 10th April but if it is at all possible, we will put a show together.

The Plant Sale is arranged for Saturday 22nd May and as last year it will be based at the Polytunnel in Colemore with orders being taken on-line. More details later.

September 2020

As you will know we held our Summer Challenge ‘on-line’ with Geoff Hawkins kindly agreeing to judge the entries. For those of you who haven’t seen it here are the results:

Congratulations to the winners but also congratulations to all of you for taking part! There were some magnificent entries and Geoff certainly had a ‘challenge’ to choose the winner!

We have now had our first Committee meeting since lockdown, and I would like to update you. The Sports Pavilion is effectively not available for our meetings, probably until 2021, and we agreed meetings before then would not be viable anyway given the Covid regulations. As a result of this our meetings for September, October and November will be cancelled and it is hoped they will be able to be rearranged for 2021.

We are planning for success and putting our Programme for 2021 together effectively using the same speakers and format as this year. We are discussing how to use our website to communicate our AGM and, possibly, a talk rather as we would normally do. More news on these ideas nearer the time but basically, we are going to try and keep to our Programme somehow. Our Spring and Summer Shows are booked and we will have a Plant Sale in May either in the Sports Pavilion or ‘On Line’ as we did in May 2020. Again, we will keep you informed as plans and circumstances develop.

It was also confirmed that those of you who have paid your 2020 Subscriptions will not have to pay anything more until January 2022.

I hope you have been able to really enjoy your gardens this Summer and they have given you great comfort and satisfaction. I know Maurice and I have been able to catch up on jobs that have been outstanding for a long time! The only sad thing is that sharing our gardens has been more difficult and, indeed, visiting gardens has meant booking in advance. Let’s hope 2021 will be very much better!

In the meantime we will keep you updated as our plans develop over the next few months and we will look forward to being able to be together once more for our members’ meetings which I have missed so much this year. Most importantly stay safe, well and continue to enjoy your gardens!

August 2020

With cancellation of our Summer Show, August is going to be unusually quiet this year. However, you should all have received a geranium plug plant for our ‘Summer Challenge’ and we would like to assess the best in show via the internet.

If you are able to post or email us a photo of your geranium (see the details from Maurice below) we will do our best to judge them all and announce the results later this month.

Summer Challenge Cup

Geranium “Aurora” (Colour Orange) from the plug plant distributed in March/April 2020. See Programme and Show Schedule 2020, Page 9, Class 75. Maximum pot size 23cm internal diameter.

As mentioned in the Ropley Horticultural Society June Newsletter, despite having to cancel the Summer Show we still wish to hold the Summer Show Challenge and I would ask you all to please send a photograph of your geranium by Saturday 15th August by email.

To enable us to appreciate the scale of your entry please also provide either the height of the pot, or its diameter (or both). After down selecting the best entries our Summer Flowers judge Geoff Hawkins has kindly agreed to decide the winning and runner up entries.

Results will be announced in our next newsletter. The cup and prize monies will then be distributed.

Good Luck!
Best wishes

Maurice Shakespeare
Show Secretary

Free Water Tank

We have received the following kind offer of a large plastic water tank if anybody has room for a quick static watering can filler. Details are as follows:-

water tankPaul Prowting has an old plastic main cold water tank, previously installed in his loft, which he wishes to dispose of. Paul thought a keen gardener might appreciate it as it is a quick way to fill a watering can. It will need two 28mm and one 15mm stop end (caps) which can be bought cheaply from Toolstation, details below.

28mm end stop

15mm end stop

If anyone would like the tank free of charge Paul would be very pleased to hear from you. A photo is attached and if you are interested email Paul.

In the meantime, we look forward to hearing from you with your Summer Challenge photos and as soon as we have any news about our three remaining members’ meetings for the year I will let you know.

Continue to enjoy your gardens and stay well!

Summer 2020

We made an amazing profit of £680 and provided members and village friends with the plants they needed for their gardens. I hope they are all thriving and your gardens are looking wonderful!

Unfortunately the Coronavirus restrictions continue although slightly lifted but we are still not going to be able to hold our meeting on 27th July when Ray Broughton was coming to host the ever popular Gardener’s Question Time and judge our Sweet Pea Competition and stay within social distancing requirements. We hope we will be able to rearrange his visit for 2021.

The Committee have also made the decision to cancel the Summer Show scheduled for 22nd August as we do not think we can hold the show with social distancing and certainly not be able to serve our usual tea and cake which everyone so enjoys. Some may say this is a little premature but we felt it was better to make the decision now rather than leave it until later when people have grown their plants only to find they will not be able to exhibit them. However we would still like to hold the Summer Challenge and I would ask you to please send a photograph of your geranium by Saturday 15th August to our email address: and we will arrange for an independent judge to choose the winner.

We have also been advised that our visit to Longstock Water Garden at Stockbridge on 8th September has been cancelled as they have decided to close the garden for the rest of the season because of the difficulty of social distancing. Again, let’s hope we can rearrange this visit for next year.

It’s all very disappointing but we are not alone and as long as we stay well and continue to enjoy our gardens we must be thankful.

With the excellent financial result from our Plant Sale the Committee have agreed that the subscriptions paid for this year will be rolled over into next so that those who have already paid their subscriptions will not need to pay anything more until January 2022. We still hope to be able to hold our last three meetings of this year in September, October and November but we will have to confirm this nearer the time.

Whilst in touch with you all, we have received an email from Marcus Dancer of Marcus Dancer Plants who came to speak to us about clematis last year saying that he is offering a mail order service and full details can found on his website: So if you are thinking of adding a clematis to your garden it would be well worth investigating what is available as his plants are of a high quality.

Spring 2020

We hope you enjoyed our last members’ meeting “Flowers of Reserves and Roadside” with Gerald Ponting who described so many flowers I knew but could not name, their history, and use with such wonderful photography!

When I wrote this Newsletter a few days ago little did I imagine that I would have to change it and announce that our members’ meeting on Monday 30th March when Wilf Simcox was going to talk to us about “Looking after your Lawn” will not be able to take place because of the Social Distancing Guidance issued by the Government.

This also will affect our Spring Show on Saturday 4th April. Sadly, this too is cancelled.

This brings me to a discussion the committee have been having about our Show Programme for both the Spring and Summer Shows which have changed little for many years. There are several duplications as the show has developed and for 2021 we would like to simplify the schedule. Do you have any suggestions for new classes or changes we could make? Please let us know your thoughts so we can incorporate your ideas on how to improve the arrangement of the classes to make the Shows reflect what we grow today and to introduce new ideas. We would really appreciate your comments and suggestions which can be sent to me on jillandmaurice@btinternet.comor passed to any committee member.

Please see details of our two smaller competitions which explain more fully the Sweet Pea and Flower of the Month Competitions and we hope this will encourage you to take part! The Sweet Pea competition is held at the Members’ meeting on 27th July when Ray Broughton is giving one of his very special ‘Gardeners’ Question Times’ – Ray will be judging the competition for us. We hope by then the Covid-19 virus will be over or at a point when normal life can begin once more. So please, if you grow sweet peas bring an entry to the meeting! The Flower of the Month competition will also be held on that evening so if you have a spare sweet pea – bring that for the Flower of the Month as well!

There are many benefits from being a member of the Society and a leaflet has been prepared listing these. We hope it will enable you to enjoy your membership to the full!

As you know our big fund-raising event is our Plant Sale which is being held on Friday 15th May in the Sports Pavilion – not the Parish Hall as printed in the Programme. It will be for ONE DAY ONLY and will start at 12 noon until 7pm. A full day, but we hope you will all come and buy your bedding, perennials and vegetable plants. We will have a large selection from professional growers and most importantly ask you, our members, to donate plants which you have grown from seeds, cuttings or divisions. These donations are so important as they give us 100% profit! We are delighted that our successful Garden Bric-a-Brac stall will be there again so if you have any unwanted gardening related items please bring them along!

It will be a long day and we will need lots of volunteers to help sell the plants. If you would be able to help us for a couple of hours during the day, please let me know together with for how long you would like to help and I will put together a rota. We would very much appreciate any help you can give us. One thought, if this event does sadly also have to be cancelled, please keep taking cuttings and splitting plants from your gardens as they can be sold on our Sales Table at our meetings.

We look forward to seeing you at our meetings and other events when they start again and hope you will be able to enter the Summer Show on 22nd August. The Shows are great fun and there are people who can help you so please don’t be apprehensive if it is your first time. Once you have ‘taken the plunge’ there will be no stopping you!!

Let’s hope the Spring will bring some good gardening weather so we can all enjoy our gardens to the full and help us to forget about the sad state of the world at the moment. I will keep you informed about what is going to happen with our April meeting and the Plant Sale as the situation develops. In the meantime, I hope you and your families will all stay well and I will look forward to seeing you soon.

Winter 2019

We have had a very successful year and are now looking forward to growing the Society still further and achieving even greater success in this our 125th Anniversary year!

Our Tea Rota has been a success and we are very grateful to the kind members who have already offered to help. It would be very much appreciated if we could have at least one more volunteer, but more if possible, so we have an even number on the rota and more helpers would mean longer gaps in between! If you would like to help please let one of us know.

It has been suggested that we could consider changing the name of the Ropley Horticultural Society to Ropley Garden Club to make it seem more inclusive and less specialised. The committee feel this is a question for the members to vote on at the AGM. Therefore ballot forms will be sent out by email with the AGM papers in January in advance of the meeting. There will also be ballot forms available at the AGM. In the meantime please give some thought to this proposal.

We are very grateful to Rem and Frances who have put our 2020 Programme together. They have created a varied and very interesting selection of speakers together with three visits to some lovely gardens. This year we have decided to publish the Programme in advance of the AGM and we thought you should see it too!

One last thing – if you haven’t already, don’t forget to buy 5 Tete-a-Tete bulbs for the Spring Challenge while they are available in the shops!

Summer 2019

Thank you all for your wonderful support for our Plant Sale!  We made just over £900 which means that our subscriptions can remain at £10 for longer and we can afford to book slightly more expensive speakers for 2020.  It was a very successful day and great to see so many of you and the village supporting us.  Even the weather was kind and the rain just about kept off!

Our next event is our Summer Party on Monday 24th June to be held at 6.30 pm at Tichborne Park, Alresford when we will walk around an easily accessible, truly beautiful garden after a glass of wine or a soft drink and refreshments.  If you haven’t put your name down already and would like to come (it costs £10 per person) please let Rem Moser know Tel: 01420 588579.  Directions are as  follows:

From Alresford turn left at the bottom of West Street onto the B 3046.
Go past the golf club on your left.
Past Alresford show ground on your right.
The entrance to Tichborne House is immediately on your right on a right hand bend. It will be signed with balloons.
It is accessed by an automatic wooden gate with a surrounding picket fence.
At the end of the lime tree drive car parking will be signed.

Let’s hope for a fine evening for what I am sure will be a lovely visit.

Our next event in the Ropley Sports Pavilion will be our members meeting on Monday 29th July at 7.45pm when Marina Christopher is coming to talk to us about Late Summer Borders.  As many of you know, Marina runs Phoenix Perennial Plants in Medstead and has an excellent reputation as a plants-woman.  Apart from her fund of knowledge she will be bringing plants for sale and other gardening sundries. 

At this meeting we will also be holding our Sweet Pea Competition.  Just bring three stems of annual sweet peas (not everlasting ones) in your own vase and put your name face down on the piece of paper provided.  The winner will be awarded our Sweet Pea Cup!

We will also be having our Flower of the Month competition so please, if you can manage it, bring flowers for both!

Jenny and Sheila, the two ladies who have been making tea and coffee at our meetings for so many years, would like to take a break and I would be very grateful if one, two or more of you would be willing to take over from them.  It’s probably a good idea to have more than one person so holidays and illness is covered not to mention that sharing a job is always much more fun than doing it on your own.  Having a rota would be a good idea so the job is shared between several people.  Our members always seem to enjoy finishing the meeting chatting over a cup of tea or coffee and I do hope we can find some willing helpers to keep this very social way to end our meetings.

Our Summer Show on 17th August is not far away so please look through the Show Programme listing and see what you might be able to enter.  I hope your Challenge Geraniums are all growing well and that they will make a wonderful show in August!   I know a lot will depend on weather conditions and how plants grow in the garden but there are lots of different things to enter which are not affected by the weather such as floral art, cookery, craft and photography.  Also please encourage your grandchildren to make and decorate some biscuits or to make an item of fabric, string, wood and/or metal.  There are two classes in each category, one for the under 7s and the other for 7-11 years.  There are certificates and prize money for the winners!  It is always a much enjoyed afternoon rounded off with a welcome cup of tea or coffee with a piece of home-made cake.

We have our outing to West Dene Gardens in Sussex on Monday 30th September.  We will be leaving the Parish Hall at 9.30am by coach and returning there at 4.30pm.  There will be a board going round at our July meeting when you can put your name down for this outing.  If you can’t come to the July meeting, and would like to go on this visit, please contact Patricia (01962 773419) or myself (01962 772425.

West Dene

The restoration of the garden to get it to its current state began after the storm of 1987. Since then, Gardens Manager Jim Buckland and Gardens Supervisor Sarah Wain have carried out a bold re-development programme designed to bring the nineteenth century gardens into the twenty-first century. Tom Brown has joined West Dean Gardens as the new Head Gardener. He comes from nearby Parham House, where he became Head Gardener in 2010. Prior to that, he worked at RHS Wisley Gardens for 10 years, latterly running the plant and vegetable trials.  The gardens at West Dene are beautiful and the restoration of the glasshouses is quite amazing so we are sure you will thoroughly enjoy your visit.

With the sudden blip in the weather may all your barrels be full ones and I hope you will enjoy your gardens for the rest of the Summer!